Nails may tear or separate more easily if you have a condition known as nail psoriasis. Nail psoriasis typically affects only people with psoriasis of the skin, and it weakens nails and can cause beds to turn white, red or yellow. A variety of creams and solutions, including calcipotriol solution, corticosteroids and antifungal treatments, are available to help keep nail psoriasis under control. Talk to your doctor about possible treatments if you think you may have nail psoriasis [source: New Zealand Dermatological Society].
Treating Torn Nails
The best way to treat a torn nail is to give it time to grow back. You can help make sure it grows back safely, and you can also take steps at home to reduce pain and discomfort as it grows.
You have a few options for treating a torn nail: You can tape the torn part back into position and then trim it off as the nail begins to grow, or you can clip off the torn portion right away at a slight outward angle so the nail grows back normally. If you try the first option and the tear is small, you can apply clear nail polish to prevent the nail from tearing further and then trim the nail as it grows [sources: Aetna InteliHealth, Mayo Clinic, Rouzier].
If your nail plate is completely separated from your nail bed, there's no way to reattach it -- you just have to wait for a new nail to grow. As with a torn nail, you can tape the nail in place while you wait for the new nail to grow, trimming it as needed. You may also want to consider having the separated nail removed completely and bandaging the exposed nail bed while you wait. A physician can help you determine the best solution for you. If your nail tears or separates because of an infection, then you need to see a doctor to treat it. Keeping the area around your nails dry can help prevent an infection from developing [sources: Aetna InteliHealth, Mayo Clinic, Rouzier].
If the finger or toe with a torn nail is painful, take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. If the pain is severe or doesn't subside, talk to your doctor [source: Rouzier].
To learn how you can help regrow your nails quickly, read the next page.